Japan 2012
A highlight of the trip was finding
Kyuu Shurin-ji Garden in a remote,
mountainous area west of Lake
Biwa.  Built in the Muromachi Era
(1392 - 1573) for the enjoyment of a
Shogun who periodically fled Kyoto
when the political situation became
hostile, the garden is lovingly
maintained by the people at the tiny
Buddhist temple adjoining the
garden.  Yasuko, my Japanese
"sister" and dear friend from
exchange student days went with us.

Taizo-in Temple in Kyoto features a very old Muromachi Era
(1392 - 1573) dry garden (left) as well as a newer pond garden
and intricately designed stone paths (below).
I think this was my fifth visit to Saihoji, also known as
The Moss Temple (Kokedera). It underwent a major
reconstruction in 1339 at which point the moss was
actively cultivated.
(All photos by Tom Prescott and Lee Sligh)
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Masuno Shunmyo's
garden at the
Canadian Embassy in
Tokyo had been an
elusive destination
for many years, and
we finally made it this
time.  Masuno (born
1953) is the head
priest of a Zen temple
in Yokohama in
addition to running a
landscape
architecture firm.  His
work can be seen
throughout Japan,
Canada and Europe.

In the Canadian Embassy
Garden, enormous rocks
(hollowed out to lessen
their weight) sit on a
cantilevered
second-floor deck with a
wide overhanging roof.  
The enclosed office
space has walls made
entirely of glass.
The Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient
pilgrimage routes on the Kii Peninsula. I had read
about the method of setting stones in Niwa
Magazine - famous for withstanding centuries of
erosion and still not understood even today.  
Climbing through the mountains on these paths
was a huge highlight of the trip (left and above).
We spent a large part of the trip on the island of
Kyushu, even taking a high-speed ferry to the
wild and mysterious island of Yakushima, where
we hiked in the rain and studied natural rock
arrangements in streams (right).